I envy normal people.
I am aware, rationally,
that these so-called normal people
look to me with envy.
I am aware, that, in fact,
there is no such thing as normal people.
I’ll put it this way:
I envy anyone without a major vice,
addiction, character flaw or personality disorder.
I have all of these things.
I feel as though some invisible
but palpable psychic booger
is hanging from my nose!
Any idiot should be able to perceive
this booger, this gap, this wound,
at the core of my soul.
I have to wonder, “if I am this good a con man,
what is everyone else hiding?”
But my envy is emotional, is not amenable
to my carefully reasoned
perception that there are no normal people
in the world,
that to be alive in these times
is to be disordered
and full of concealed untidy fragments.
I envy normal people with normal lives;
with homes, families, jobs.
These are the good people engaged
in the pursuit of happiness.
Far from pursuing happiness, I have abandoned myself
to the avoidance of misery.
After fifteen years of therapy,
I’ve given up on health, happiness, thriving,
any of those curiously modern concepts
with which we aggravate ourselves.
I still envy normal people.
But I have decided to engage myself
in a ferocious loyalty to my abnormality.
It has, like an old friend, sustained me
these many years.
I’m afraid of what I might lose,
if I became, suddenly,
I wrote this poem in 1972. I was a very young man. Today I entered into a prestigious poetry competition. The fee was nominal. Most of the big literary competitions are pay n’ pray these days. I paid $99 last week to enter one of my novels in the Writer’s Digest E-book Competition. So it goes. Everyone’s a writer these days. I esteem this poem so highly that I chose it to represent my work in a major competition. I think it deserves a read, and then a re-read.
Everything is in a look.
Yet still, everything
is in looking away.
Unable to breathe suns from each other,
we turn to contemplate
and wash our hearts
with what warmth remains.
And again, that look,
rending the cosmos,
pours from the vat of creation
in our eyes.
The unspeakable love
dashes its silences to death,
against the perimeters of our exiles.
Yet, and there is always a yet,
to be born, to be resurrected
in a touch. The miracle is
that my skin was made to meet your skin,
that unknowable lightnings are our servants
to carry the burdens of love and loneliness.
Somehow my universe gathers energy
and spreads, with the vague arms of an amoeba
to some call on the horizon.
No matter that horizons always recede;
if you too were to will your stars and dust
towards the furthest reach,
perhaps we would meet on some plain
lit by the ecstasy of celestial collision.
And perhaps we must die
to know each other.
Look! I would fling off my skin
like a cloak,
to show you the sun that burns within.
But as it is, only my face,
and those desperate radiations that pass
through this terrible cloak
may reach you.
Know me! Know me!
Not by my escapes into smiles
but by my facelessness,
too full to shine,
too lonely to weep.
We are infinite
yet the mystery is always a deeper note
than we can hear.
Hearken to the remotest timbre,
it rises from our source
but hides its silence.
Listen to the mask of music,
behold the facade of stars,
yet be ready to fling them away
to peer into the depth beyond depth.
Love only wears faces to entice us
in our simplicity.
God dons the robe of the cosmos
that we may not plunge into her nakedness
before we ourselves are naked love.
I’ve never published this poem before. It’s not bad.
There is no part of you
that is not a whole.
There is no hole in you
that is not part of you,
whole and alive.
There is no whole without holes,
no healing without wounds
no making without
that which is a whole,
to begin again,
be born, again, whole.
What crying is this,
in the hole, in the hurt,
yearning to be whole?
Leave yourself alone,
quiet, make everything work
for you, everything,
the base and the noble,
the useless and the crucial,
whole is what is, resting in the center
of the hole.